Hub Arkush: Chicago Bears’ rise appears to be happening at exactly the right time
If you’re beginning to think the sun, moon and stars are all coming into alignment to favor the fortunes of up and comers like the Chicago Bears in 2018, the evidence that you might be right was everywhere on the fifth Sunday of the NFL season.
Yes, it’s early, but a number of the league’s most consistent and successful organizations are struggling right now, and other than the Bears and perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals, there don’t appear to be any up and comers rising to replace them.
While much of what the young Bears touch seems to be turning to gold, locker rooms and front offices around the league are in turmoil and few of the troubled appear to have any real answers.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams are the two best teams in the league, but what other clubs can you hang your hat on?
The New Orleans Saints? Maybe, but I don’t trust that defense any farther than I can throw it.
Of course the Patriots will be there in December, but even at 3-2 and back in first place Monday, their visit from the Chiefs this coming Sunday and a Week 7 trip to Soldier Field are foreboding.
Beyond that, everyone’s either in the middle or at the bottom, and some of the best are in real trouble.
The defending champion Philadelphia Eagles were the model everyone seemed to want to copy just five weeks ago. Now they’re 2-3, struggling in every phase of the game and starting RB Jay Ajayi was questioning head coach Doug Pederson’s play calling of all things after Sunday’s loss to the Vikings.
“Obviously we want to be able to run the ball early and start that rhythm early in the beginning of the game. If I remember correctly, we had maybe three carries at the end of the first quarter,” Ajayi told reporters afterwards.
“With the offensive line we have on this team, running the ball like that, that doesn’t make sense to me.”
While the Vikings got the must-win in Philly to crawl back to 2-2-1 and stay in the hunt, it was neither easy nor pretty, and there were still questions to answer on the ride home.
Minnesota can’t run the football, and after the vaunted defense reappeared for three quarters at the “Linc,” it let the Eagles go up and down the field for 15 fourth-quarter points that almost let the game get away.
After the Packers fell behind the Lions, 24-0, in the first half Sunday and a 23-point second-half comeback came up short, reports of friction between Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy that have bubbled under the surface the past few weeks are out in the open, according to multiple sources.
While the Cowboys, Broncos and Giants may or may not have been contenders this season, all are heritage-type franchises, and all spent the weekend airing their dirty undies in public.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones publicly second-guessed head coach Jason Garrett’s decision to punt in overtime and then tried to claim he wasn’t second-guessing his coach.
The Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. may be the best receiver in football, but he has the maturity of a fourth-grader, and after personally arranging an interview with ESPN to question his quarterback, he said after a heartbreaking 33-31 loss in Carolina, “I don’t regret anything that I said. If it took that for us to come together as a team like we did, I can take that every single time.”
Come together? You lost, Junior.
Denver’s Derek Wolfe was clear in how he feels about his club right now, saying after a 34-16 butt whipping at the hands of the Jets in which the defense allowed 512 yards of offense, “It’s the same s--- every week, I’m tired of talking about the same s--- the last two years,” according to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold.
Did the Steelers turn a corner Sunday or just tee it up for Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown to knock them back down.
What is this new reality of ours?
When was the last time we could say it’s great to be a Bengal or a Bear?